Joshua M. ’22 Wins Essay Contest

Middle, high school and college students in NYC had a chance to win $500 in Schneps Media’s “Your Voice, Your View Point” essay contest by sharing a story of their personal experience with racism. Our very own Joshua M. ’22 (pictured here with his mom) submitted the essay below and won! Congratulations!

My first experience with racism was in 4th grade when my teacher assumed that because I am Hispanic, I could not speak English. This incident happened at the second parent teacher conference with my mom, my aunt, and my teacher. My mom and my aunt went into the classroom as I waited outside. About 20 minutes later, my mom came out of the room with a furious look on her face and told me to go inside.

As soon as I went inside, my teacher asked me if I was struggling in any of my classes. I told her I am not struggling but my teacher disagreed. She assumed because I did not talk very much, I did not know any English. My teacher then told my mom that there was a language barrier. English has always been my first and only language and my family does not speak Spanish. My teacher, insisted, however that I should be evaluated because she felt that there was a language barrier.

A couple weeks later my mother decided to transfer me because the teacher insisted that English was not my first language. The teacher never considered the fact that I may have been a shy student who felt nervous to participate in class. She instead judged me according to my appearance. Up to this day, I wonder if my teacher would have judged a shy white kid as she judged me.